Four years ago, Shenay noticed a “glow” in one of her six-month-old daughter, Violet’s eyes. She also realized she hadn’t been able to see emotion in the same eye that exhibited “The Glow.” Concerned that it could be something serious, Shenay took her daughter for a full eye exam. Violet was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma.
If the diagnosis wasn’t sobering enough, doctors later learned that Violet has an RB1 gene mutation, making her more likely to get other various forms of cancer. In addition, she exhibited an extremely rare deletion in chromosome 13, which is known to cause many issues, from growth and development delays to kidney failure. Violet is now in remission, and is a happy, thriving four-year-old.
Besides her multiple diagnoses, there is something else rare about Violet – her dedication to comforting and bringing cheer to other children courageously battling cancer. With smiles, cheerful giggles and prayers, Violet brings her “Blessing Bundles” to the Children’s Hospital of Seattle to be distributed them throughout the United States, Canada and Italy.
After three years of bringing joy to others, The Violet Brielle Live Love Foundation, has delivered 287 bundles and spread countless smiles and cheer. All of the shopping is done personally; each bundle is put together thoughtfully and with love. Violet and her family enjoy selecting the child’s favorite things and customizing the bundles. Violet’s Blessing Bundles are filled with handmade Violet Brielle hats/headbands, toys, stickers, encouraging cards and more. Each is unique, prayed over and filled with Violet’s love.
“We know how it feels to receive the smallest thing when you are going through the most difficult time. It can be a much needed light in the darkness. Childhood cancer feels so isolating and not many people understand what you are going through. Violet really enjoys her work through her foundation. She loves seeing the kids and she prays for them. Violet picks our their favorite things for them and really customizes their Blessing Bundle,” said Shenay.
How to get involved in Blessing Bundles
Violet is inspiring others to get involved in the grassroots project. A quilters’ guild makes pillowcases, and an origami owl guild has recently donated necklaces and lockets. There is no end to the creative ways to give back. Other ways people can get involved:
- Request a Blessing Bundle for a child you know.
- Sponsor a child you don’t know.
- Donate books and other toys.
- Spread the word about the Blessing Bundles.
Violet’s proud parents and the road ahead
“Even with everything Violet has been through, she has such compassion and gratitude,” said Shenay.
Violet’s nonprofit is currently working towards becoming an official 501(c)(3) and possibly expanding. Together, Violet and her family will keep spreading joy and spreading the word about Retinoblastoma and “The Glow.”
Shenay said, “Trust your instincts. I was made to feel like a crazy overprotective first-time mom. Fight for your child. As you go out into the medical community, you may initially get blown off. Do not take no for an answer. You need to have your child seen by a pediatric ophthalmologist, and they need a dialated eye exam.”
To sponsor a Blessing Bundle or learn more, visit the Violet Brielle Foundation website.